Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Connie J. Jasperson Interview
2/11/2012 11:08:24 PM
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Fantasy author Connie J. Jasperson discusses her novels and the writing life!
LTS: I’ve had the good fortune of meeting so many creative, talented writers via Twitter and today’s guest is no exception. I’d like to introduce you to book reviewer/blogger and fantasy author Connie Jasperson. I’d like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers, Connie. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
CJJ: I love to cook, and I am experimenting with a more vegetarian diet. I walk for an hour each day, weather permitting and enjoy gardening
LTS: I know you’re an avid reader and book reviewer, but when did writing come into your life? Has becoming a published author been a lifelong dream?
CJJ: It was definitely a life-long dream. I began writing in 1982 when I had read all the books that the local library had and wanted some new stories. I read so fast that in those days that I couldn’t afford to buy books to keep me busy. My first tale was a story that I called Video Earth. A few months after I wrote it, a film called ‘The Last Star Fighter’ was released. That movie had nearly the exact premise that my story had, so I scrapped it, but I felt that I was on the right track when that happened.
LTS: Your debut novel, The Last Good Knight is receiving great reviews and I had a chance to read an excerpt, enjoying how you were able to draw me in to your fantasy world from the start. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Sir Julian Lackland?
CJJ: On October 24th 2010 Stardale, a friend of mine from the Philippines, challenged me to enter the National Write a Novel in a Month (or NaNoWriMo) contest. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel from start to finish during the month of November. I thought he was nuts! I had been working on Stump County for 11 years and Tower of Bones for 2 years so how the heck could I start a novel on November 1st and finish it by November 3oth? It began as a tale that takes place around the Rowdies, a loosely affiliated group of Mercenaries who work for Captain Billy Nine-Fingers. I had the final chapter in my mind, and wrote the story to that point. An elderly knight who yearns to retire from the business of saving the world returns to the scene of the happiest days of his life. What led him there? What was the driving force in his life? He interested me, because despite the lack of resolution in his personal life, he somehow survived and now he is looking to regain something that he has lost.
LTS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the readers when they crack open The Last Good Knight?
CJJ: The Rowdies are fun bunch of mercenaries! It takes a sharp sword and a sharp sense of humor to survive in their world. This is the tale of Julian Lackland and of the people that he loved, and how they shaped his life.
LTS: Your latest title is Tower of Bones. Can you tell the readers what this novel is about and reveal a little about your protagonist, Edwin Farmer?
CJJ: Edwin Farmer toils away in boredom on his father’s sleepy farm, unaware of his family’s bargain with the Goddess Aeos, or the manner in which he will be called upon to honor that bargain. From the first moment that he is in the strange land of Neveyah, Edwin finds himself fighting for his life and after he gets the hang of it, he finds that he rather enjoys it. Soon he has embarked on the quest to rescue the girl of his dreams from the clutches of the Bull God, Tauron. In the process he discovers how little he knows about his family and his father in particular. Edwin is one of my favorite characters, because he is a hero with a heart, and a sense of proportion.
LTS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. Was it difficult for you to land an agent? Do you have any advice you’d like to share with the author struggling to find representation?
CJJ: I don’t actually have an agent, though I spent a lot of time courting them! It was simply a matter of fate that I connected with J Darroll Hall when he had the idea to start up Fantasy Island Book Publishing. I was in the right place at the right time.
LTS: That’s even better than having an agent then! Because becoming a published author is truly a difficult road to travel, so I’m always pleased when a fellow writer lands a book deal. Can you share that moment when you sold your story to Fantasy Island Book Publishing?
CJJ: I couldn’t believe that someone finally thought my work was worthy of their time and attention. I still pinch myself!
LTS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
CJJ: Having trusty Beta Readers and reworking the rough spots in your manuscript based on their input is critical. Learning to market myself and my work has been an adventure, but that is important if you want to get our work out there. Persevering through the rough times, and having faith in your work can be hard, but it really does pay off in the long run, whether you self-pub or are picked up by a publisher.
LTS: I’m curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
CJJ: I write from 4:30 a.m. to about noon or to whenever I have to leave the house. When I return I write until about 5pm. After dinner I read until I go to bed at 10pm.
LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
CJJ: Tower of Bones is strictly plotted, and has been 4 years in the making. The Last Good Knight was definitely winging it! I can work both ways, but I come up with a different product by working each way. I really prefer to have some sort of structure to work around, because winging it terrifies me.
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
CJJ: I listen to a wide variety of music, and do my stretching exercises or Tai Chi in the morning. I frequently meditate on my characters and their lives as they might live them.
LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
CJJ: I am an artist. I work in pastels, and do what I think of as ‘random colorings’. The vivid colors of the pastels are so pleasing that I always feel invigorated and inspired. I come from generations of musicians and artists, and I find myself playing the guitar and singing at odd times. My siblings are musicians and artists as are my children.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
CJJ: So many authors fall into that category, you yourself included! But I would have to say that the late Anne McCaffrey was slightly ahead of the rest as far as influencing my work. Her ability to fully flesh out a character in only a few sentences is unparalleled.
LTS: Thank you! I’m so flattered even though I'll never compare with Anne McCaffrey! Now, what is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
CJJ: I am deeply connected to my work. It really is an extension of me. When someone likes or dislikes my work I know that I have had an impact on them even though we have never met. This is a strange feeling, one that I am not sure how to describe. Receiving feedback, both negative and positive is very empowering, because you know that you are having an impact on the reader.
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
CJJ: For recreation I am reading ‘Shadowmarch’ by Tad Williams. He is one of my all-time favorites, and while I drink deeply from the well of indie authors, I love it when I find something new to me by an established author like Williams. I am also reading several wonderful tales by some of my favorite indie authors, one of whom you know quite well! This week I am in a good place with reading! I am random in the way that I choose books to read. I usually just stumble across them. Once in a while, someone will recommend a book to me. Once I latch on to an author I usually read everything they have written.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from fantasy into other genres? Can your fans expect a sequel to The Last Good Knight in the near future?
CJJ: I have companion book to The Last Good Knight in the works, and also another tale of Neveyah. There is a sci-fi romp currently in the hopper too! When I come to a sticking point on one, I move to another.
LTS: Thank you so much for taking time from your hectic schedule to discuss your novel and share in your writing experiences, Connie!
For more information about Connie Jasperson and her novel, check out:
Follow Connie on Twitter: .cjjasp
Where to buy the book: www.fantasyislandbookpublishing.com
Also available through Barnes and Noble, and Nook
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